Week 11 is scheduled for study March 6-12, 2023. This week’s lessons are all focused on the choices we make. Do we believe, exercise our faith, and plan for the eternities? Or do we live for today’s comforts?

Day 1

The study ideas in this outline are meant to help you find personal meaning in the scriptures. They should not, however, replace personal revelation you might receive about what passages to study or how to study them.

Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-42 – Be not afraid, only believe.

There are some interesting points about this story that I think should be discussed. We pick up this story after it has already begun. The ruler of the synagogue had already told Jesus that his daughter was dying and that if Jesus would just lay his hands on her that she would be healed. While Jesus was on his way to the ruler’s house, he met the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years. He was just finishing up with her when others from the ruler’s house came and made the following announcement to the ruler (Mark 5:35-36).

35 While he [Jesus] yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

For the ruler, the worst thing that could happen had just occurred. His twelve-year-old daughter was dead. How would you react if your worst fear had just happened but a powerful healer immediately said to you, “Be not afraid, only believe”? You are already torn by grief, but are now given a glimmer of hope from this man who has healed so many people. Do you understand what is happening or how he does it? No. But you have heard of and seen his handy work, and he has just told you that there is some kind of hope for your child, even though she appears to be dead already.

I think this next part is significant. Jesus allows only those who will become the First Presidency of his church to accompany him to the man’s house. All others were told to stay back.

37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

The people of the middle east still have a custom of having professional mourners come in and wail over the loss of their family member. It is a profession of sorts. These mourners may have been the paid kind or members of her family. Either way, there were musicians and mourners making a lot of noise when Jesus arrived.

38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.

When Jesus told them she was not dead, but only slept, they mocked him. They all believed they knew a dead person when they saw one.

40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

Jesus took only his First Presidency and her parents into the room with him. This was more sacred than many of his miracles. Was she dead or only in a coma? We don’t know. But either way, this required reverence. The house was cleared of all the racket from the musicians and the mourners, and in the quiet that ensued, he, his leaders, and the girls parents were alone in her room with her.

41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

The sacredness of this experience can be seen in the setting, as well as in his strait (meaning strict) command not to tell anyone what had happened there that day. As soon as he took care of business he made sure the girl was taken care of by telling her parents to be sure to feed her something. She may have gone days without food as she lay dying.

The lessons

There is more than one lesson to be learned here. Not all miracles are the same. Some are more sacred than others, though all of them are called miracles. This miracle was a sacred moment for that family. This was also a training opportunity for the leaders of Christ’s church. Whatever happened in that room, Jesus did not want any of his other disciples to witness it. This healing was special, and meant only for her and her family to witness. The head three apostles were guests in the ruler’s home to witness the moment the God of all creation brought their daughter back to them.

Jesus’ message to the ruler of the synagogue was to “be not afraid, but believe.” How often might we have miracles happen in our own life if we were to just put our fear behind us and believe?

Day 2

The study ideas in this outline are meant to help you find personal meaning in the scriptures. They should not, however, replace personal revelation you might receive about what passages to study or how to study them.

Matthew 10; Luke 9:1-6 – The Lord gives His servants power to do His work.

This was not the first time Jesus had given the priesthood authority to do God’s work on earth, but it was the only time he had given it to twelve of his closest friends in mortality. They were officially the only twelve men to hold the priesthood in all of the middle east. The Savior’s phrase to them, “freely ye have received, freely give” is important for us as well. Jesus had already set the example for them of being liberal with God’s blessings to all people. Now he commanded them to be just as liberal in how they shared what they had witnessed of God, himself giving to others.

Their immediate instructions were to only go to those of the house of Israel, since Jesus’ mission was to the house of Israel. He told them that they would preach to all the world, but while he was alive in mortality they were to go to the house of Israel only. It was only after Jesus ascended into heaven that Peter received the revelation to change the direction of the church and to begin preaching the gospel to literally every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Jesus did not just call them to the work, like we are given a calling in church. He gave them the priesthood, the authority to act in his name. He gave them the power to do what he was telling them he wanted them to do. Too often in today’s society what we hope is God’s authority is received for the asking. You can send in an application, pay a fee, and voila you are a minister! God doesn’t work that way. He called those twelve to represent him in all things to the people who desperately needed his blessings.

Today Christ’s servants are all over the world. They are in every Stake, Ward, and Branch. There are now millions of priesthood holders who have been commissioned to preach repentance to the people around them, and to bless their lives with their service and the power of the priesthood they hold. We, as a people are not all up to Apostle standards of commitment and service, but that is what we strive for.

Jesus did not call his followers to be just administrators over his congregations, but as ministers to all God’s children everywhere. We are to serve as Jesus served. Christ’s mission was to Israel proper. Our mission is to every living soul. He did spend some time organizing the church and training others, but most of his time was spent in service and love for others. One of the patterns we see in Christ’s church is that those who are called to do a work are given the authority and power (the power is based on their personal worthiness) to do that work.

Day 3

The study ideas in this outline are meant to help you find personal meaning in the scriptures. They should not, however, replace personal revelation you might receive about what passages to study or how to study them.

Matthew 10:17-20 – When I am in the Lord’s service, He will inspire me with what to say.

Faith is the act of living what we have chosen to believe. The tenants of Christ’s gospel are completely opposite of the world’s way of doing things. In the world we prove something so people will believe it. In the gospel we choose to believe then live something. The proof comes after the fact. This tells me there is power in both belief and faith, for they are the precursors to conversion.

When I choose to believe in all that Jesus taught, as well as in Jesus as my Savior, then live according to his commandments, miracles happen. That is the way this whole religion thing works. We choose him over all else, and he makes things happen for us. A prime example of this is studying the gospel. We do the studying then we are either given the assignment or the opportunity arises where we need to say something intelligent about the gospel we have espoused. As we stand there with a blank mind, not knowing what to say, words just come into our mind that feel right. We start to say those words and the more we talk the more we believe what we are saying. Our testimony is actually strengthened as we share what is coming out of our mouth at that moment.

I have been in front of a classroom teaching the prepared lesson. Suddenly my mind’s eye begins to see relationships between doctrines, see new possibilities, and to grasp greater understandings of the gospel than I have ever had before. None of it was planned out ahead of time, because I didn’t know any of it before hand. It all came as I spoke. Have you experienced anything similar to that? In Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 it says this.

85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

What is given to us by the Spirit doesn’t just happen in a classroom setting. More often than not, we feel to do good on the spur of the moment, find our self saying something that we never thought we would hear our self say, or feeling to give comfort when we didn’t expect to do so a moment before. This happens when priesthood holders give blessings, when mothers give comfort, solace, or counsel to their children. In short, this experience happens whenever and wherever the Spirit moves those who have chosen to believe then live that belief.

The Apostles hadn’t experienced the full gift of the Holy Ghost yet. That wouldn’t happen until many weeks after Jesus’ ascension on the day of Pentecost. The Apostles learned through experience, just like we do, that when we fill our lives with the gospel of Christ, the words, the actions, and the needed feelings will appear without announcement when they are needed. This is how the gospel works. We learn how to rely on the Holy Ghost for guidance. This is what God wants us to do. We live our life the best way we know how, and the Spirit prompts us, directs us, inspires us, and gives us increasing measures of God’s love to comfort us.

Day 4

The study ideas in this outline are meant to help you find personal meaning in the scriptures. They should not, however, replace personal revelation you might receive about what passages to study or how to study them.

Matthew 10:34-39 – What did Jesus mean by “I came not to send peace, but a sword”?

It is the nature of the gospel of Christ to be a polarizing agent. It separates those who love evil from those who love good. And yes, that is a very broad generalization. Our Adversary pushes people, even otherwise very good people, to be afraid, reluctant, angry, suspicious, or resentful of what is taught by Christ, even other Christians. It is he who causes families, who otherwise love their family members to disown them for the sake of the gospel. If not, we would have no problem living with those not of our faith.

Christ, fully understanding this dynamic, warned his disciples that sacrifices would have to be made. Each person who embraces his teachings will eventually be tested to see if they are really converted to the possibilities he promises. This testing may come right off the bat with our first acceptance of his teachings. It might also not come until many years later. In many cases the resistance we receive because of our beliefs is a surprise, and a great and painful hurt to our soul. All any of us wants is for those around us to find the same joy in Christ’s teachings we have found.

Since the days of Adam the teachings of Christ have separated the people. We will experience universal peace only once everyone believes and has faith in Christ. In the meantime we just have to shoulder our burden of discipleship as Christ told us we would have to do.

FHE/Personal Study

Matthew 10:39; Luke 9:23-26 – Lose our life

I’m going to do something unusual for Matthew 10:39. Here is the verse in the King James Version.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Here is the verse in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

39 He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Elsewhere in the New Testament when the Savior says “for my sake” it is noted in the footnotes that it means “because of me.” So with that in mind, I present another possibility for this verse. This is all me, by the way. The prophets don’t preach this, but it helps me rethink this verse.

39 He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life because of me shall find it.

In this world the emphasis is usually on securing your own comfort. But those who seek only after their own security and comfort lose their eternal prospects, for they have spent their life focused on making for themselves a home in this life only.

Those who spend their lives focused mostly on preparing for the rest of eternity are those who lose their mortal lives in the pursuit of eternal blessings. These people include those who live quiet lives of service, unnoticed by the world at large. They are also the people who are persecuted and sometimes killed by those who resent the truths they espouse in this life. The Christians who died in the arenas of Rome, and those who were driven from their homes in America in the 1800s are just a couple of examples of those who lost their lives because of Christ in their attempts to find and secure their eternal happiness.

This religion requires every member to make a choice between the comforts and security of the world, and the promised blessings of eternity. Which is more important? Whether or not we make a deliberate choice, we all make that choice by the way we live.

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NT11-2023 – These Twelve Jesus Sent Forth

Week 11